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Can Protein Shakes Damage Your Kidneys

You May Get A Sugar High

Is Whey Protein Damaging For Your Kidneys?

âLots of protein powders have tons of flavorings, sugar, and additives to make them taste better. When possible, try to find a protein powder that is minimally flavored otherwise, all that sugar can add up to something similar to a soda!â says Kostro Miller. This is particularly concerning for those who buy protein powders as supplements in protein smoothies, as they will already have a good amount of carbs and natural sugar from fruit.

âOverall, Iâd say itâs best to avoid protein powder if you can opt for another way to spike your smoothie with protein. You can try adding more yogurt, seeds and nuts for this purpose. Even tofu can help add more protein to a smoothie without compromising the taste, which is one of my favorite tricks for making creamier smoothies,â recommends Velikova.

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My Partner Died Of Kidney Failure

Around 2003, I had a very successful nutritional supplement business specific for athletes and bodybuilders. I had a business partner who was much older than me and at the time, someone I *thought* was also wiser and more knowledgeable.

I really looked up to him at the beginning of our partnership and friendship.

Unfortunately, over time, the longer I got to know him, the less I respected his decisions and views on health, fitness, and longevity.

One of them was the use of high-protein diets.

I remember him telling me that in order to really increase my muscle mass, while minimizing fat gain, I need to eat a lot more protein. He suggested a minimum of at least 2 grams per pound of body weight and it would be much better if I had 3 grams.

At that time, I was eating 1 gram per pound. Thus, I weighed about 200 lbs and ate 200 grams of protein.

But he suggested I increase it to 400 grams and preferably 600 grams, daily to start seeing the real muscle-building benefits.

He himself, being very muscular and lean at 250 lbs, was eating almost 1000 grams of protein daily and said that was ONE of his secrets. Most of the protein is from fast-digesting Whey protein.

And so, I decided to give it a try because I trusted him.

After all, he was 7 inches shorter than me and yet, he had an extra 50+ lbs of muscle.

Over the next 3 months, I slowly increased my protein to eventually eating 600 grams daily. It was about 100 grams, 6x daily.

Was this all because of the high protein diet?

Protein Powder Is The Cause Of Diabetes And Kidney Failure

According to Prof.Dr.Mehmet Isbirs statement, as protein is an important nutrient for the human body, it can usually be taken directly from animal products or nutritional products.

The Girne American Universitys Faculty of Pharmacy, the Head of the Pharmacology Branch, Prof.Dr.Mehmet Isbir, mentioned some important points about those who do sports and frequently use protein powder to get more muscles in a short time, are damaging their body and is causing damages that can not be treated.

This is what Mr.Isbir said in his statement:

Plant Protein Causes A Lot Of Harm

Nowadays, we have 2 types of proteins what we call synthetic protein, which is vegetal or whey or casein protein.Both of these are produced from milk. We advise these proteins to the elderly. We advise these to those who has metabolism disorder, those who cant turn protein into amino acid. Recently, plant proteins came out and the harm they cause is very high.

Everything Is Poisonous. The Dose Separates The Difference

We have a famous saying, Everything is poisonous the dose separates the difference. It harms the digestive system, whey and casein proteins are produced from milk. If a persons body is lactose intolerance which this is hard for them to know, when they start using these their bowel, digestive system will not work properly. Things like throwing-up and diarrhea starts to happen.

Protein Powders Cause You to Gain Weight In An Unhealthy Way

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Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful

Can too much protein be harmful? The short answer is yes. As with most things in life, there can be too much of a good thing and if you eat too much protein, there may be a price to pay. For example, people that eat very high protein diets have a higher risk of kidney stones.

Dietary Protein And Kidney Stones

The Real Truth About Protein Powders And Kidney Damage

The role of high protein diets in kidney stone formation has received considerable attention. Excessive protein intake increases excretion of potentially lithogenic substances such as calcium and uric acid . Reddy et al. noted that consumption of a high protein diet for six weeks was associated aciduria and urinary calcium and claimed that this constituted increased risk of stone formation in ten healthy subjects although none of the ten subjects developed renal stones. The severe carbohydrate restriction imposed in this study may have increased keto-acid production thereby contributing acid formation. Since consumption of fruits and vegetables usually produces a marked base load , restriction of these foods subsequent to the diet intervention may have also contributed to the net acid load.

Studies that claim an increased propensity for stone formation as a result of increased protein intake should be taken at face value because propensity is a surrogate marker and does not represent actual stone formation. Further, randomized control trials have not been done to test whether an increased tendency for stone formation is enhanced with consumption of a high protein diet.

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How Does Protein Get Into Urine

Protein gets into the urine if the kidneys arent working properly. Normally, glomeruli, which are tiny loops of capillaries in the kidneys, filter waste products and excess water from the blood.

Glomeruli pass these substances, but not larger proteins and blood cells, into the urine. If smaller proteins sneak through the glomeruli, tubules recapture those proteins and keep them in the body.

However, if the glomeruli or tubules are damaged, if there is a problem with the reabsorption process of the proteins, or if there is an excessive protein load, the proteins will flow into the urine.

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Kidney And Liver Function

Even during short-term use, whey protein consumption was found to negatively affect kidney function. In a 2011 study, those who consumed whey-based protein during the experiment experienced increased plasma urea, urinary volume, and urinary calcium excretion while the pH of urinary citrate decreased. Essentially, this indicates an increased taxing of the kidneys, which marks the first step in kidney disease.

In regards to liver function, those who live generally sedentary lives are most affected. Researchers found that when not exercising, the proteins from the whey supplement ended up going to the liver for processinginstead of being used for muscle synthesis. Over time, sedentary participants showed signs of early liver injury. While whey protein is heavily used by athletes, many non-athletes consume it as well. Whey protein can be found in meal replacement shakes and other diet-related food products that promise weight loss or increased muscle mass through food alone. This becomes an issue because consumers are led to believe that whey is akin to a superfood, when in reality it could damage their liver over time.

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So When It Comes To Protein How Much Is Too Much

Its hard to provide a specific answer since so much is still uncertain and the experts themselves dont agree. However, for the average person its probably best to aim for no more than 2 gm/kg that would be about 125 grams/day for a 140-pound person. New information could change our thinking about the maximum safe amount, but until we know more about the safety, risks and benefits of high protein diets, this seems like a reasonable recommendation.

Studies On High Protein Intake And Kidney Health

Can Whey Protein Damage Your Kidneys

We will now take a look at four relevant randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews.

In each of these papers, the researchers were trying to establish whether too much dietary protein can damage the kidneys, and what risks high protein diets may have.

1. A High Protein Diet Has No Harmful Effects: A One-Year Crossover Study in Resistance-Trained Males

In this randomized controlled study, Jose Antonio of the International Society of Sports Nutrition led research into potential harms of a high-protein diet in resistance-trained individuals .

The study lasted for 12 months in total, and participants consumed between 2.51 and 3.32 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day.

Notably, this level of protein intake is 3-4 times higher than the current dietary guidelines recommended daily allowance .

During the 12-month period, participants visited a laboratory five times for comprehensive testing.

The results showed no negative effects, and there was no adverse change in kidney function or other health markers.

Key Point:

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How Much Is Too Much Protein For General Health

If we did eat too much protein, whatever that amount might be for each individual, then will we have problems?

First of all, there are associations between high protein intake and health problems in some studies .

But there are also associations with better health in others .

Importantly, correlation does not equal causation, and these observational studies do not control for confounding variables.

In other words it is difficult to ascertain whether it was the protein that cause the problems.

For instance, someone eating more fast food hamburgers would likely be eating more protein. But would that mean it is the protein content causing the harm?


One of the most thorough research papers on the topic is a systematic review of 64 prior studies that passed quality checks. This particular paper found that links between a high-protein diet and cancer, cardiovascular problems, and all-cause mortality are all inconclusive .

However, just because we cant prove high protein intake causes problems doesnt mean we should consume ad lib amounts of protein.

At a certain stage, the intake vs. benefits ratio will drop, and eating more will simply become counter-intuitive. The amount at which this would occur likely depends on a combination of overall diet/lifestyle and physical activity levels.

Key Point:

Ingesting Heavy Metals And Toxins

Like all dietary supplements, protein powders aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means you have to rely on the goodwill of manufacturers to ensure that they are safe to consume.

In 2018, a study sponsored by the Clean Label Project, a national nonprofit focused on transparency in labeling, released a study showing that many of the top-selling protein powder supplements contain heavy metals and BPA , an industrial chemical used in plastics and a known endocrine disruptor. The worst offenders were plant-based protein powders, which were found to contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. The study also found that 28 out of 134 of the protein powders contained twice the regulatory limit of BPA while other protein powders tested free of BPA.

Here’s The Surprising Truth About Protein Powders You Need To Know.

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Evidence In Healthy Individuals

Although the efficacy of high protein diets for weight loss has been evaluated, there have been no reports of protein-induced diminutions in renal function despite subject populations that are generally at risk for kidney disease . A randomized comparison of the effects of high and low protein diets on renal function in obese individuals suggested that high protein diets did not present a health concern with regard to renal function their study population . In this study, 65 overweight, but otherwise healthy, subjects adhered to a low or high protein diet for six months. In the high protein group, both kidney size and GFR were significantly increased from that measured at baseline. No changes in albumin excretion were noted for either group and the authors concluded that, despite acute changes in renal function and size, high protein intake did not have detrimental effects on renal function in healthy individuals. Similar findings were recently reported by Boden et al. in a study of 10 subjects who consumed their typical diet for 7 days followed by strict adherence to a high protein diet for 14 days. No significant changes were noted in serum or urinary creatinine and albumin excretion, suggesting no ill-effects of a high protein diet on renal function.

Whey Protein And The Microbiome

Can Whey Protein Damage Your Kidneys

While physical activity can increase the good bacteria in your gut, supplementing with whey protein can counteract those positive effects. A 2018 study that looked at athletes who specifically supplemented with whey protein found a decrease in the participants beneficial bacteria and an increase in the harmful bacteria. When the balance shifts and ones microbiome contains too much bad bacteria, one can experience uncomfortable symptoms such as severe and chronic bloating, constipation, stomach pain, gas, and other gastrointestinal distress. Athlete or not, no one wants to contend with these awful feelings on a day-to-day basis.

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The Harmful Side Effects Of Whey Protein

True athleticism isnt about being stronger or fasterits about longevity. Some shine bright and fizzle out quickly, while others can keep going for years. Its not about how good you are in your prime, its about how long you can stay in your prime. Many professional athletes have discovered that a dairy-free diet is key to enhancing their performance and maintaining their peak for years past their expected retirement age. These leaders are moving the needle toward plant-based fuel in sport, but the misconception surrounding dairy and performance nutrition still lingers. Whey is still the most commonly used protein supplement by athletes and trainers according to a just-released paper, Whey protein supplementation and its potentially adverse effects on health: a systematic review. Per the reviews title, whey protein is not the healthy muscle-maker that marketing makes it out to be.

Is More Regulation The Solution

Protein supplements can be classified either as a therapeutic good or as a food, depending on the packaging and the marketing claims.

Therapeutic goods are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration , the same body that regulates what drugs can be sold in Australia. Foods come under the Food Standards Code, which is developed by a national body, Food Standards Australia New Zealand , and regulated by State and Territory governments.

After Meegan’s death, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt asked FSANZ and the TGA to clarify the regulatory status of protein supplements.

But even where a protein supplement is deemed a therapeutic good, it will not be subject to routine compliance testing to make sure it does what it claims to do or contains the ingredients that it lists on the side of the bottle. There are also no tests to determine whether the particular cocktail of ingredients in a product is safe to consume.

The TGA only tests a fraction of the thousands of products listed on the Australian Therapeutic Goods Register. In 2016, it tested fewer than 500 complementary medicines out of the 11,000 on the market in Australia. Eighty per cent of those tested had compliance breaches, mostly to do with inaccurate labelling and advertising claims.

Three products were found to have safety issues with ingredients.

“Most of these supplements are totally unregulated,” Dr Shackel said.

We don’t know what’s in them. It’s like taking an unregulated medication.”

Getty: Jerod Harris

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Fluctuating Blood Sugar Levels

Several protein shakes and powders are sometimes flavored to offer variety to the user. Many such shakes contain artificial sweeteners and additives. This is one of the other common side effects of protein shakes, as some shakes can tremendously increase the blood sugar level in the body. Some protein shakes can also bring down the blood sugar levels with regular use. So if you change your protein shake brand constantly, the blood sugar levels in your body might start fluctuating too much which may affect your health in the long run.

Whey Protein Powder And The Dialysis Diet

Does A High Protein Diet Cause Kidney Damage or Stones (Clinical Evidence Included)

To some people, the mention of whey protein powder may conjure up images of body builders at the local gym. To others, a childs lullaby may come to mind . But for people with kidney disease who are on dialysis, whey happens to be a great source of high-quality protein. A diet rich in protein is vital for fighting infection, healing wounds and achieving a good nutritional status.

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese-making process. It comes in powder form and can be easily mixed into food or beverages. Typically protein powder is available plain or flavored, such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

Whey provides from 10 to 50 grams of protein per serving. Sometimes the manufacturer provides a measuring cup in the packaging to help scoop out the appropriate serving size. The size of the scoop and the amount of protein provided varies greatly from one product to the next, and your dietitian can help you decide which product is right for you and how much you should consume. Though some whey protein contains added phosphorus, it is typically lower in phosphorus compared to soy protein powders.

How to use whey protein powder in the kidney diet

For more ideas on how to use protein powder in your dialysis diet, check out these recipes:

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Apart From Affecting The Kidneys Unregulated Protein Intake Would Hamper The Body In Following Ways:

Upset Digestive System: Whey and Casein Proteins are milk-derived and hence are rich in lactose. Ones who are allergic to lactose would find it difficult to digest and suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, and flatulence.

Obesity: It might be surprising, but protein supplements can cause excess weight gain too. Remember that if your routine does not match your protein intake, the unutilized calories turn into fat. This fat when accumulated causes obesity.

Brittle bones: Protein can weaken your bones! Meat derived protein products are highly acidic. Consumption of these could trigger blood acidity levels. To combat blood acidity, the body releases calcium and phosphate. These alkaline substances come from the bones hence you lose bone mass when you go high on animal protein supplements, which renders the bones weak and brittle.

Disturbed Blood Sugar Levels: You might love your protein supplements, but do you know that they are brimming with additives and artificial sweeteners, which trigger blood sugar levels. Though whey, soy and casein protein is known to bring down the blood sugar levels, people suffering from diabetes or low blood pressure need to be extra cautious before consuming.

Severe Hair Loss: Hair is made up of a protein called Keratin. It does not make sense that you increase your protein intake and cut back on vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates. This might lead to heavy hair loss and balding.


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